The Governor got himself back in the news last week with the announcement of a study on creating a toll road out of Interstate 70. His plan is to use the money we spend to maintain 70 to help out the rest of the states' roads and bridges. I've been on the transportation committee for four years and I think I've heard every possible solution for transportation discussed and debated over and over again. Before placing the transportation sales tax on the August ballot there was extensive polling done to determine which solution appealed to voters the most. The sales tax polled at 64%, raising fuel taxes polled at 44% and toll roads finished dead last at under 30%. Creating a toll road means selling someone on the idea of financing the $3 billion dollar project. I can assure you that voters in our area are not too keen on the idea of a bond issue that puts the taxpayers on the hook for that amount of money. That leaves private enterprise to sell the idea to. Anyone who has that much loot to lend is sharp enough to figure out how to make it pay for itself. The estimated toll price I heard was about 50 cents a mile for trucks and a dime a mile for cars. Studies in other states have shown that drivers will find alternate routes to avoid paying tolls. This would almost certainly doom highways 50 and 36 to heavy truck traffic and that would cause them to undergo costly repairs. And what about all the Kansas City and St. Louis commuters that use Highway 70 daily to get back and forth to work? Does the Governor really think they are going to vote for a toll? I don't have any new ideas for a solution to our highway and bridge funding but it's a sure bet that we can't take any money away from Social Programs or Education. Probably sometime in the next couple of years we will see a proposal for a small increase in fuel tax coupled with a temporary sales tax offered to the voters. Ultimately, it will be your decision what to do to solve the problem and that's how it should work.
I've had occasion this past week to visit with several civic and law enforcement agencies around the District. This time of year many of them are involved in fund raising activities for Christmas baskets and gifts for the elderly and the needy among us. Once again I am amazed at Southwest Missouri! These aren't the best economic times we've seen but the donations continue to break all previous records. There are a lot of wonderful people around us that step up and help out when it's needed. Most of them don't even want recognition for what they've done. All I can say is thank you all for what you're doing! That is the epitome of keeping Christ in Christmas.